Getting something off your chest is one thing, seeking help for a mental health problem is another. Often it’s a terrifying step to take, mental illness in its many forms can be all-consuming and entirely intimidating. Ultimately all forms of self-expression are cathartic: we offload by talking, by writing. This issue we’ve chosen to display the latter, in order to inspire the former. In line with Movember and Mind Your Head Society’s Male Mental Health Month, there seems no better time than now to hone in on what is a very important conversation.
Our leading Features piece (pages 12-13) examines the problematic associations masculinity often has with identity. Backed up by our survey of over 300 students, it seems too often men are dissuaded from opening themselves up to others and repress feelings of insecurity for fear of being seen as weak.
We have dedicated at least one piece in each of our ten sections to a mental health focus. News report on VP Welfare Naomi Armstrong’s ‘Get Comfortable’ campaign, which encourages students to sit down and chat about their concerns (page 5). In Comment, an anonymous student talks, with painful honesty, about how a breakdown of a relationship led them to self-harm (page 9). The world of ‘perfection’ we are confronted with daily on social media is examined in Lifestyle (page 16) while the correlation between musical ability and mental health is discussed by Music over on page 20.
Professor Green’s hard-hitting documentary on his dad’s suicide is reviewed in Screen (page 24) and Arts & Lit let their writers’ pick the poems that inspire them when feeling down (page 29). Science & Tech discuss the serious and oft understated problems of OCD and schizophrenia on page 30, whilst Games debate whether video gaming is therapeutic or destructive to mental health (page 35). Finally, Sports editor Rob Cross explores the difficulties faced by athletes in admitting to suffering from mental illness on page 38.
We both have first-hand experiences of the crippling reality of mental instability. It is an issue that continues to dominate the lives of many, yet is under-reported on a national scale. We hope that by drawing attention to the facilities out there, we can go some way to helping others help themselves.
Our front page news story this week focusses on the finances of Guild affiliated societies. Bracton Law Society top our very own ‘rich list,’ with just under £60k in their piggy bank, a figure justified comprehensively by their President in a manner befitting of an aspiring Lawyer. We’re of the opinion that although it is inevitable some societies will have more access to funds than others, it does seem slightly unfair that many groups are able to secure lucrative external sponsorship whilst others struggle to make ends meet. The refusal of BodySoc to respond to our questions about their £26k budget also raises the question of whether students are getting adequate value for their membership fees. Ultimately it is up to societies to decide how they use their money, but more effort on the part of the Guild to ensure students aren’t being ripped off would be more than welcome.
Speaking of being ripped off, students have been protesting in London again this week, slating the Tories for their proposed cuts to maintenance grants in Higher Education. The rally received widespread newspaper coverage, with the Exeter Socialist Students’ President featuring on the front page of The Independent. It was worrying, however, that the majority of media outlets continued to focus on the violent actions of the small majority whilst ignoring the real issues that should be addressed. For a balanced and entirely factual report, see page 3.
Elsewhere in the paper, we’ve got more high profile interviews in the form of ginger-haired folk singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner (page 18) and Outnumbered writer and comedian Andy Hamilton (page 26). In the way of reviews, Screen have gone large on 007’s latest outing, with two differing opinions on Spectre over on page 23, whilst Music give their verdict on Catfish and the Bottlemen’s performance at The Great Hall (page 19.) Finally, Ubisoft’s latest installment in the Assassins Creed series is put under the spotlight by Online Editor Harry Shepherd for Games (page 34.)